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Tell Me A Truth (Don't Tell Me Goodbye)

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Hitoshi freezes when he enters the cafeteria, frowning in confusion as he looks at an empty table, then around. 

His new hero-course classmates are all sitting together, as they always do. One or two of them saw him and waved him over, and go entirely ignored as he continues his survey of the room.

About half the gen-ed students are sitting around, the other half probably hanging out to eat lunch in homeroom, as many did to avoid the drama and noise of the hero course-students. He recognized a handful of business and support students that Izuku had gushed about -for one reason or another- chatting up hero course students or conspiring in the back of the cafeteria in small groups. He looks back to the table he and Izuku usually sat at. It's still empty.

Then, finally, by compete  chance, he sees a familiar tuft of green hair out of the corner of his eye. His gaze snaps to his best friend just as the boy carefully edged himself to a door leading outside.

Before Hitoshi can say or do anything, Izuku's eyes darted around the room, almost nervously, before they met Hitoshi's own. Hitoshi raises a hand to wave at the strangely-skittish greenette, and Izuku flinches and slides outside.

Hitoshi's heart falls into his stomach and freezes, as he realizes that Izuku was afraid of him.

One of his new classmates walks over with a more direct and verbal offer to sit with them then before, but Hitoshi brushes them off.

He's lost his appetite anyway.

--

He'd met Midoriya on the first day of school, at lunch. He'd sat alone, far enough to not hear his classmates whispering about him- because even though it had been better then pretty much any class he could remember, he could definitely still hear people whispering about it, and he really just didn't want to deal with it.

Which made it a million times more suspicious -and/or irritating- when the boy that sat behind him in class went out of his way to approach Hitoshi's table with a grin.

Mentally, Hitoshi had already run through the next ten minutes. The idle chatter, the slightly-nervous glances, all leading up to the timid questions about his quirk. The 'hey so I've got this bet..' or the 'so there's this rumor..' or the 'can I ask you something?' that all led to the same damning question.

'you..can't really brainwash people right?'

Then he'll sigh and confirm that he can because there's no point hiding it, and then the green haired boy with stars for eyes will either shuffle awkwardly and fall silent before never talking to him or scamper away or sneer in disgust, and Hitoshi'll ignore him and remind himself that it would hurt more if he lied and then had this happen later. It was like ripping off a bandain. Same song and dance as always.

(It was infinitely better then the people who came to him with silver tongues and evil glints in their eyes and requests or offers or demands. He'd never felt more like a villain then when his lonely desperation almost tempted him to accept.)

The freckled boy opens his mouth and Hitoshi settles in for the ride, already mourning his lunch. He'd made it himself to start the school year off nicely, but he should've known better. The first few days always have these conversations, and these conversations twist his insides up until eating isn't really an option anymore.

Whatever. He might be able to eat on the way home.

"I- can I sit here?" The greenette stuttered out. Hitoshi rolled his eyes- this one wasn't even trying to pretend he was approaching Hitoshi with an 'open mind' or whatever. Why was he eve bothering?- but nodded. It's best to get this over with.

The greenette hesitated another moment, but sat down. Hitoshi had a biting comment on the boy's fear poised, but was cut off when the greenette let go a sigh of...relief, when he sat.

Hitoshi blinked in shock. That was...new. These conversations didn't usually have much New. Or any at all.

"I'm- I'm Mid-midoriya Izuku." The greenette- Midoriya- stuttered, not looking at Hitoshi.

"...Shinsou Hitoshi." He returned, and Midoriya nods. Hitoshi thinks, for a second, that he sees a grin, but it's hard to tell with the bowed head full of curls.

"Y-y-y-eah, I. I know." Midoriya squeaked.

Hitoshi waited for the questions, but Midoriya just sighed again and started eating. Hitoshi blinked, but did the same. At least he'd get something down, before this conversation took it's inevitable turn.

Except it...never did. The conversation didn't go anywhere, actually. They just sat there in silence and ate lunch. When Midoriya was done eating, he pulled out a notebook and started scribbling things down in it. When lunch was over Midoriya just trailed quietly after him back to class, and Hitoshi probably should have had some sort of comment on the situation, but he was too bewildered in all honesty. He hadn't been caught off guard like this in a while.

It was...weird. Not nice, but not bad. Just unusual.

All in all, though, weird was much better then he expected.

--

After watching the boy scamper outside, Hitoshi doesn't see Izu- Midoriya around much at all. He's in the hero course, and it was every inch as grueling as he knew it would be. With so much to do, you'd think that he wouldn't have time t dwell on his friend's sudden abandonment, but he still finds the time and energy to keep an eye out for that green tuft of hair.

He tries to move on. The students of 1-A make an almost impressive job of trying to befriend him. He sits between Ashido and Jirou during lunch, and when he isn't asleep him and Tokoyami have...pleasant conversations between classes. He's had a handful of civil conversations with just about everyone in the class, actually, with the exception of Bakugou, arguably, and Ojirou and Hagekure, who have avoided him ever since his transfer. 

Still, it was better then he'd expected from any class, much less the privileged prissies of UA's 1-A, and he doesn't  hold it against the two of them. Hagekure seemed close to Ojirou, and Hitoshi couldn't begrudge them for being wary after what he did during the sports festival; especially when they aren't even lashing out or anything, just avoiding him.

It was...surreal, really. 1-A is everything he'd ever imagined and more. The workload is almost impossible and there isn't a day that he went to bed unsore, but he's never been treated so normally before. Not except for...

Midoriya. Damn. That was the problem- no matter what he does, Hitoshi's mind just keeps circling back around to him, and it feels like picking at a newly scabbed wound every time.

Hitoshi had always had trouble making friends, for obvious reasons. The closest thing he'd had in grade school- or even middle school- were bad actors, only out to use him for his quirk and then leave.

But Izuku....Midoriya isn't like that.

Or at least, he wasn't.

--

The second day of lunch followed much like the first. As did the third, and forth. On the first Friday, Hitoshi waited until they were finished eating and braced himself. He'd put the conversation off long enough, he scolded himself. Letting Midoriya sit there would give off the wrong impression- Hitoshi wasn't here to make friends. He wouldn't even be staying in this class long.

So before Midoriya could pull out his strange, worn notebook, Hitoshi cleared his throat.

Midoriya jumped in his seat like he'd been electrocuted. He pulled his notebook in to his chest with a protective gesture and looked up with wide, green eyes that came to a stop at Hitoshi's nose, like the boy was afraid of meeting his eyes. Hitoshi bit his lip, then took a deep breathe. He didn't know why always hesitated at this bit. It was like ripping off a Band-Aid.

(He did know. It was because, even with all the practice, he could never fully stop a kernel of desperate, foolish hope from forming. He could take the edges off, but he had never managed to stop the stab in his gut at every rejection anyway.)

"My quirk is brainwashing." Hitoshi says. The first words he's said to Midoriya since their first meeting. 

And Midoriya...he seemed to brighten up at the claim. He licked his lips nervously, fingers slowly relaxing over his clutched notebook and starting to tap.

"I- r-really?" Midoriya gasped. Cautiously, Hitoshi nodded, and Midoriya nodded, seeming deep in thought. "How does it work?"

"Why?" Hitoshi immediately returned, tensing up. Good things never came of people asking about his quirk. It had the same bad luck streak as most things surrounding his quirk.

Midoriya shrunk back into himself, gaze falling back to the table.

"I j-just....It..What do y-you mean b-b-by 'brainwashing'?" He pressed lightly, getting quieter as he spoke until he devolved into muttering.

Hitoshi shrugged. That was pretty safe ground. It's not like everyone didn't know. In fact, with how fast word spread, it was more weird that Midoriya didn't, really.

"When someone answers a question I ask, I can control what they do." He answered, cutting off the ramble. 

"Oh." Midoriya breathed, fingers twitching, and the muttering came back immediately, quieter this time.

Hitoshi was, once again, completely lost. 

"Oh?" He mimicked with a scrunch of his face. Then, mostly out of curiosity, "Is that all you have to say?"

Midoriya jumped again, looking up at him carefully, starting at his hands before sliding back up to his nose again. The boy shook his head frantically. 

"I- uh- um?" He stumbled over his words. "Yes?" He tried, but cringed as he said it. "I mean- it c-can be. B-b-but also? No?? n-not if, not if you don't want it to be! i-i-if you want me to t-t-talk about your qu-qu-qurik, I can! It's just, ahm, you, didn't...didn't seem to. W-want to, th-that is." 

Hitoshi blinked at the ramble, taking a while to process it. When he did, he was on guard again, if significantly more weirded out. 

"Why?" He hissed defensively, and didn't even have it in him to feel guilty this time when his tone made Midoriya curl up. "Why are you trying to figure out my quirk? What do you want?" He demanded.

"Nothing! No-nothing, I d-d-d-don't want, w-want anything I just, I thought-" He took a deep breathe. "I w-was just th-th-thinking it. It c-could be useful."

The boy might have continued after that, but Hitoshi cut him off with a mean snort. The mental thread that connected them after Midoriya answered his question pulled tight, ready to be tugged, but Hitoshi ignored it with practiced ease. "Oh, I've heard this one before." He said, almost with a degree of relief, because this was familiar again, almost. He could regain some footing- something that was apparently scarce when talking to Midoriya. "Useful for villainy, right? I could make anyone do anything, I could get away with whatever I want, if I did it right no one could stop me, etcetera etcetera." Hitoshi drawled, trying to mask the defensiveness with apathy. He didn't want Midoriya knowing he struck a nerve. 

For the first time, Midoriya's eyes snapped up to meet Hitoshi's, horror blowing them wide.

"no, no no no no no th-that- that's not what I meant! Not-t at all!" He insisted. "I- I'm s-s-s-sorry, I ju- I just m-m-meant it'd, ya know, it'd be. Good for h-heroics, ya'know? L-l-like. Really g-good. You could- you could be an amazing hero!" Izuku gushed. He seemed to realize all at once what he was doing, and looked away again. "I- just. th-that. That's what I meant S-s-sorry."

Hitoshi was, for the first time in a while, totally speechless. He didn't even have a deflective barb or leading question or vague threat, and he always had a few of those on hand for emergencies. He opened his mouth, no idea what he was going to say but determined to say something, when the lunch bell rang.

Izuku squeaked and, in the space of a few seconds, he was out of the book with his things and melting expertly into the crowd. 

Hitoshi groaned, and walked to class after lunch for the first time that week. The familiarity wasn't as comforting as he expected.

--

"Hey Shinsou-kun, why don't you ever talk to anyone from Gen-ed?" Ashido asks him, sipping on a strawberry-milk tea with boba because she was way too attached to her aesthetic. It's been a few weeks since he'd transferred, and she's right. He hasn't spoken a word to any of his ex-classmates.

But that isn't any of her business, or anything he wants to talk about, so he just shrugs.

"Seriously." Ashido insists, hopping onto a counter to meet him at eye-level. "They cheered you on at the Sports Festival, right? And you don't really complain about them. You had to have made some friends, but I've never seen you so much as nod at them in the halls or anything. What's the deal?"

Hitoshi wants to walk away from the conversation, but he's doing the dishes tonight so he's kind of stuck. His second thought is to make her go away- it wouldn't be hard, after all- but that's ultimately unproductive too. She'd just get more invested, if she thought there was a secret to be hidden or something.

"There isn't a deal." Hitoshi denies with a dismissive noise. "I just wasn't close with anyone. And it's not like the Hero Course has given me much free time anyway."

Well, that's not the whole truth. It's hard, of course it is, but even with Eraserhead's extra training sessions, he has a few extra hours of free time every day. He isn't sure why, but the staff is strangely insistent that the students have time to themselves 'to be kids'. 

Which is all well and good, but Hitoshi has entire months to catch up on. In just about any other class of any other school, two months wouldn't matter much, but in the hero course of UA, it's a ten pound weight in the ocean. 

So, he is being honest, kind of. He doesn't have time to waste on 'friends'.

Ashido hums skeptically anyway. "What about that plain looking guy?"

"What plain looking guy?" Hitoshi sighs, trying to seem more exasperated then annoyed with the questioning. Trying to bore her, because he does not like where this was going.

Ashido's expression sharpens like she smells blood in the water. She isn't so easily swayed.

"The one that you had a dramatic stare down with before Denki dragged you over to sit with us that first day." She clarifies, not giving an inch. Damn. "Green hair, kinda jumpy. C'mon, I saw the way you looked when he ran off, you gotta give me the scoop." She pressed.

Hitoshi's hands tighten on a cup, and he is distant concerned it'll shatter.

Midoriya, his brain supplies unnessarricly, almost taunting. You always circle back to Midoriya.

Instead of answering, he briskly finishes the dishes. Mina doesn't take the hint.

"seriously Shinsou-kun, I gotta know! I've only really seen the kid in the hall, but he seems kinda meek, not really like someone you'd hang out with, no offence. Are you childhood friends? secret lovers? Ooh, secret childhood-friend lovers? I'm on the edge of my seat, gimmie something to with!" 

Hitoshi scowls. Damn, what are the chances she'd catch that? Why is his luck this bad all the time?

"No."

She whines, and Hitoshi grinds his teeth together. "You're no Fun! Just a little-"

"Ashido?" He cuts her off sharply, tilting his head. She froze for a moment, hesitating, but shook it off with an ease he'd never seen before this class.

(Not even with Midoriya, cause Midoriya never hesitated in the first place. Never feared him in the way others did, in the way he had long since expected.)

"Yeah?" She nods encouragingly, still bouncing on her feet.

He feels the thread pull taut again, and tugs it. Her eyes go glassy, for a moment.

"Drop it." he orders, more to make a point then anything else. He only holds her for a handful of minutes as he finishes the dishes, letting her go as he left.

He catches her eye as he steps out, sees her contemplative and a little guilty, and then exits the room.

Ashido doesn't follow him.

(Midoriya would have.)

--

After he revealed his quirk to Midoriya, nothing really...changed, between them, and it was the strangest thing. Midoriya still waited for him to nod before he sat down for lunch, still ate silently and muttered as he scribbled in his worn notebook, still eyed Hitoshi with something considering or hopeful or curious from time to time but never actually spoke up. Really, the only thing that had changed was the fact that Hitoshi would occasionally ask questions, testing the waters, and Midoriya would spring on the conversation without a hint of self-preservation.

Hitoshi was honestly convinced that the boy had somehow forgotten about his quirk, somehow, until Midoriya finally braced himself and started a conversation himself for the first time.

"H....Hey, Sh-shi-shinsou-k-kun?" The greenette squeaked quietly. Between his curls and his angled up notebook his face was almost entirely obscured, and Hitoshi only barely heard him despite sitting right across from him.

"Yeah?" He responded before he even really thought about it, curious (concerned) despite himself.

Midoriya paused, but the tension outlining and shaking his form still wasn't that of fear or caution, like Hitoshi was used to. If he had to put a word to it, it'd be doubtful, which didn't make any sense.

"Can...CanIAskYouSomequestionsaboutyourquirk?" He finally spat out, all at once. 

Hitoshi blinked in response, taking a moment to process the question. Midoriya peeked a single eye over the corner of his book to gauge Hitoshi's reaction, then ducked his head back down and shrunk into himself a bit. 

A distressed noise and the frantic bouncing shake of curls followed Hitoshi's lapse of response. 

"N-n-n-not that, that you have- you c-c-can say no, of course! I! I'm...I'm just, j-j-just curious, ya, ya know?" he waved one hand frantically, closing the notebook with the other and clutching it to his chest again. Apologies and reassurances kept falling out of his mouth like stones and hitting Hitoshi in the throat, and he didn't say anything, couldn't hope to keep up with this.

Midoriya...wanted to know about his quirk. Which meant he remembered his quirk, and it hadn't changed how Midoriya interacted with him at all. Midoriya wanted to know more about his quirk, which usually set Hitoshi on edge immediately- for more then good reason- but for some reason he..wasn't all that bothered this time. Midoriya wasn't fishing for information the way most people did, he was actively back tracking and trying to make Hitoshi comfortable where everyone else he'd ever even tried to befriend (aw fuck is that what they were? friends?) always jumped on the oprtuninty to push and prod at his comfort zone.

And then, just before Midoriya fell into incomprehensible rambling, he whispered "your Quirks' just so cool," and Hitoshi heard himself responding before his head had really caught up with it all.

"I don't see why not." He lied through is teeth, because there were a million reasons not to talk about his quirk, it just so happened that he didn't mind so much with Midoriya. Still, his voice was calm and bored as it always was by default, and he couldn't help taking a bit of pride in the way Midoriya seemed to relax. 

(He'd compare it to a puppet with Cut strings, except he  knew exactly what that looked like.)

Timidly, Midoriya brought his notebook in front of him again and cracked it open, watching Hitoshi carefully for...something. Hitoshi just sat back and nodded, still idly taking bites of leftover rice. Midoriya had a habit of not finishing his meals and pushing the rest over to Hitoshi, and Hitoshi had a habit of eating any food offered to him just in case he skipped (or was denied) a meal at some point, so it worked out, even after only a couple days. Had it even been a week?

Apparently, thankfully, that was the right response. Midoriya smiled at him, like a stray beam of sunlight, and quietly asked his first question.

Hitoshi looked out at the cafeteria to make sure no was was listening in, and then responded. Midoriya's smile grew a little bigger and his voice a little louder, and it was all the encouragement Hitoshi needed to continue indulging the greenette.

--

"What happened to your green friend." Aizawa-sensei asks one day during training. Hitoshi freezes in surprise at the sudden question, and Aizawa-sensei knocks him back with a solid hit to his stomach. 

He doesn't get the chance to answer until he's done dry-heaving on the floor, spit messing his face grossly. He groans and falls dramatically to the side. Aizawa-sensei, with as much tact as he ever has, drops a sweat towel over his face.

"Wow, thanks." He tries to say, but is muffled by the towel. Probably Aizawa-sensei's intention. Bastard. 

It only takes him a moment to wipe his face off and lay the towel over his shoulders, staying lain in the grass. Aizawa-sensei never gives him the towel until they were done for the day. Hitoshi appreciates having such a clear cue. 

"So?" Aizawa-sensei asks, as Hitoshi looks back up at him, and it takes him another moment to remember the question that shocked him so much in the first place.

Hitoshi....doesn't know how to answer that question, so he decides not to.

"How do you know about him?" he asks in turn, a much more important question. Aizawa-sensei's eyes narrow, but he doesn't call out his obvious deflection.

"Kid, he was practically glued to your side for the first two rounds of the sports festival, and then he just disappeared and forfeited by default. Then you two spent pretty much every second between your thitd round matches whispering to each other, and you proceeded to win the sports festival. The entire staff knows about the little cryptid." His teacher reveals, and Hitoshi nods like that doesn't send a spike of...something straight through his heart, because it makes sense. He just really doesn't want to talk about it.

Aizawa-sensei gives him an assessing look, and then continues with something that made much less sense. 

"He keeps asking about you." Aizawa-sensei sighs, squinting out at the field. Hitoshi jumps at the admitance, entirely surprised. Midoriya was what? "He gave me a notebook full of advice about your quirk and warned me against mentioning things he said would upset you, then scampered off and started popping up every once in a while to grill me about your progress."

"When?" Hitoshi asks, because that didn't make sense. Not unless it all happened before he got transferred to the hero course, and Aizawa-sensei just didn't bring it up until now for some reason, which also didn't make sense.

Aizawa-sensei looks at him strangely, but answers anyway. "He started as soon as your transfer was confirmed, and has been coming to me every week or so for an update. I didn't realize until recently that the two of you never hang out."

Hitoshi winces, though he didn't know why. It's true. "We don't." He nods, looking down. "We...I don't know. He's avoiding me." Hitoshi admits, cheeks going red. He hasn't had to actually say it until now. It sounds so childish, for something that hurts so much.

Aizawa-sensei frowns at him. "Do you not want me to talk to him about you?"

Hitoshi purses his lips and thinks about it. He couldn't deny that Midoriya was helpful- he probably had something to do with some of Aizawa-sensei's more strangely specific suggestions. At the same time though.....

Hitoshi didn't know why Izuku had stopped talking to him. But, looking back, he's always been smart, and observant, and his moods were weirdly in flux. He didn't want to think the worst of the boy, but he kept going through it, and he could only find one explanation for everything;

Midoriya pretended to befriend him to help him with the Sports Festival and get Hitoshi out of his class. It was a smart move, and an impressive one with how long it took and how authentically he acted, but it worked. Now Midoriya would never have to see him again, and he wouldn't put it past a classmate to pay him for it. UA had a lot of rich kids with money to burn.

But this.....Izuku keeping tabs on him, it kind of shook that whole theory. If he just wanted Hitoshi out of his life, why would he secretly help with his training?

But if he didn't want Hitoshi out of his life, then why avoid him?

Hitoshi shook his head. Until he knew what was going on, he didn't want Midoriya to just...know things about him. If he was so curious, he could ask Hitoshi himself.

Aizawa-sensei nodded and checked his phone. He offered to buy Hitoshi dinner, as he occasionally did, and that was that. He could try and figure out Midoriya's deal later.

--

The next day Midoriya was a little bolder in his questions, a little more comfortable in his seat. He continued his excited interrogation while he was eating, and finished his entire lunch for the first time Hitoshi could remember. He shot Hitoshi an unsure, almost guilty look when he realized he'd broken their unspoken routine, but Hitoshi just shrugged and didn't mention it, so Midoriya didn't either. 

"-Do you think you could use your quirk through a Megaphone?" Midoriya asked, after a few minutes of private mumbling and scribbling. Hitoshi thought about it for a second, then shrugged. Midoriya hummed. "You should test to see if you can- it'd open up a lot of potential uses for your quirk!" He enthused and then, quietly and under his breath, added "especially for heroics...", before he cleared his throat. "Like, if it worked through a Megaphone then it'll probably work through something like an audio recorder, and that means you could be a therapist and lend out recordings of yourself to your clients that pull them out of panic attacks or trauma responses or something. Or you could be a first responder that talks people down from violent or self destructive acts, or you could work with-"

"Why do you keep saying that?" Hitoshi blurted out. Midoriya's eyes snapped to him and he flinched back with a mildly panicked look, gaze falling back to the table for the first time that day. Hitoshi felt something twist in his gut. 

"S-s-say..." Midoriya took a deep breathe, balling his fists to stop his shaking. "Saying...what? Did- I, I'm s-s-sorry, d-did I, did I say s-something....wrong? A-are you un-uncomfortable? I can. I can j-j-just stop-" Midoriya fretted, and it was a special kind of saddening, to watch all of the excited progress he'd made at opening up over the course of a single conversation slip through his fingers like sand.

"No." Hitoshi shakes his head. "Midoriya, just." Hitoshi groaned, unsure how to phrase this, or if he even really wanted to, and Midoriya made a sound not unlike a kicked puppy before going dead silent. He was clutching protectively at his notebook again.

Damn, maybe Hitoshi is a bad person.

"Just-" Hitoshi scowled, but he couldn't go back now, so he might was well ask, even if he knew he probably wouldn't like the answer. So he braced himself and just spat it out. "Why do you keep mentioning my quirk would be good for heroics?" 

..That wasn't exactly what he was expecting to come out of his mouth. He thought it'd be something closer to 'why do you think my quirk would be good for heroics' but he realized, just before he could ask, that he knew exactly why Midoriya thought that- the guy wouldn't shut up about it, after all. So the real question was...why mention it, specifically?

Midoriya squeaked in...maybe embarrassment? And his checks flushed red, but he didn't hesitate to say "Because it would be."

Hitoshi stared at him. Midoriya looked up carefully, and seemed to realize how much of a nonanswer that was to the question, even if it did make Hitoshi's heart flutter with that strange almost-hopeful feeling he kept getting around the freckled boy.

"I..." Midoriya turned his notebook around in his hands, and for the first time Hitoshi read the title. Hero Analysis For The Future #14. He blinked at it. "It's....I r-really like quirks, r-right? In case you...didn't n-notice." Midoriya cringed at what could have been a joke, if it sounded less terrified. "B-But usually when I'm, when I'm a-a-analyzing a quirk, it's.....It's a h-heroes qu-quirk. So I'm...j-j-just used to th-thinking about th-them, like that." He swallowed nervously, turning his notebook back into his chest and looking up cautiously. "If....if that makes s-sense? I- I can stop. If it...bothers you..."

Hitoshi somehow doubted that, and Midoriya sounded dubious about it himself. It was a nice thought, more of Midoriya's strange tendency to keep him comfortable, but he shook his head.

"It doesn't. Bother me, that is." He clarified, and Midoriya looked instantly relived, though still nervous. Hitoshi sighed, scratching the back of his head before staring Midoriya down with a familiar determination- though, backed by less spite then it usually was. "It's actually kind of useful. I'm going to be a Hero, after all."

Despite everything he still tensed and waited for a denial, or a question, or any kind of pushback, but-

Midoriya just nodded, like it was the only thing that made sense. That hopeful thing surged again, burning so hot it almost hurt.

"Are you trying to win the Sports Festival, then?" Midoriya whispered, leaning forward like it was a secret. Which, to be fair, it kinda was. It wasn't hard to find, but you did have to look for it. It had him eyeing Midoriya in a new light, assessing someone he hadn't even considered could be competition. 

"Are you?" He challenged in return. Midoriya blinked at him blankly a few times, then frantically started shaking his head and his hands.

"Ah- no, no I'm not. One failure's enough f-f-for me, ya know? P-p-plus I wouldn't do well anyway, with a-all those people watching....." He shook his head, shot a strange glance at a particular table full of hero students, ducked his head down almost fearfully, and added so quiet that Hitoshi barely heard him, "it...it wouldn't be worth it, anyway."

Hitoshi considered this, then decided not to press the greenette. After all, Midoriya didn't push him- it was only fair to return the favor.

(and, secretly, a part of him didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. He was relived that he wouldn't have to fight Midoriya, for some reason.)

With that out of the way, he nodded. "I'm going to win the sports festival." Hitoshi answered. Midoriya shot another strange gaze at the hero student table, and Hitoshi saw something almost calculating in his gaze.

And then the greenette nodded.

"Ok." He says, laying his notebook back on the table. "Let's see to it then."

Hitoshi blinked, taken aback by Midoriya's sudden conviction. "what?"

Midoriya just smiled, another beam of sunlight, and met his eyes for a moment with a poisonously bright green.

"You're gonna win the sports festival!"

--

It's a fairly normal day at school- or, at least, normal for UA- when everything comes to a head, and it starts with a shout long coming, though only one green haired boy in the whole school knew it.

"DEKU!" Echoes down the hallways, a word said with so much venom that the voice was almost unrecognizable. Bakugo was rude and crass and blunt and above all else loud, and more then a bit of an asshole, but he never sounded so...cruel. It sent shivers up Hitoshi's spine, and has him turning his head with everyone else to see what the fuss is about.

"A-ah, K-k-k-kaachan!" A familiar voice stutters, and Hitoshi's heart skips a beat in shock. He hasn't heard Midoriya in weeks, but he's pretty sure he never heard him sound so scared. "U-uh. B-b-been a, a whi-while!" He squeaked, and, there.

At the end of the hallway, Bakugo had Midoriya pushed up against a wall, and the greenette was trembling. Despite himself, Hitoshi felt a spike of protective anger start to simmer, and he made his way through the crowd.

"Bakubro?" Kirishima asked uncertainly, putting a hand on the blonde's shoulder. Bakugo's eyes darted to him for a second, and his grip loosened a little on Midoriya. "What's going on?"

"..What're you doing here, Deku?" Bakugo snarled lowly. Hitoshi wouldn't have heard it, if he hadn't made his way to the front of the crowd. Hitoshi could tell there was something hidden in the question, but couldn't tell what. 

Midoriya could, though, apparently. He shook his head a little frantically and gave Bakugo an almost reassuring smile.

"Ah, I-I-I'm just in G-G-Gen-ed, Kacchan! UA's v-v-very pres-prestigious." Midoriya stuttered, giving a nervous giggle. "Th-that. That's i-i-i-t."

Bakugo's grip loosened more. He had pensive look on his face, one that seemed entirely foreign. "Nothing more?" He growled. His free hand sparked like it did sometimes to get rid of excess stress, and Midoriya flinched. Probably didn't expect the sudden noise- he'd always been a jumpy kid.

"N-No, Kacchan. N-n-nothing more." He claimed, looking Bakugo in the eyes. He had that same strangely steeled expression that Hitoshi recalled from so long ago.

Bakugo let go of him, letting Kirishima pull him a few steps back. Ashido surged forward out of nowhere, taking Bakugo's place with a much more friendly air.

"Ah, sorry about blasty!" She apologized, rolling her eyes. Midoriya stared at her with an awed expression, though was still obviously half focused on Bakugo. "He tends to fly off the handle- we're working on it. Are you ok?"

Midoriya focused more fully on her as Bakugo was ushered away by Kirishima and Kaminai, Sero leaning against a nearby wall and watching the interaction. Hitoshi wondered why the Bakusquad bothered to clean up after Bakugo, and how they managed to do so without getting the ire of the blonde himself.

Whatever, it wasn't his problem. Midoriya swallowed and nodded.

"O-oh! I, I'm fine?" Midoriya asserted with a smile, looking much more confused by Ashido then he had by his encounter with Bakugo. That was a little concerning- of the two of them, Ashido was the one pretty much everyone found easier to talk to. Even Kirishima, and that guy was probably Bakugo's best friend. "Kacchan's a-a-always been l-like that, d-d-don't w-worry." 

This statement, in fact, only seemed to worry her more, but the worry was quickly overtaken by a studious glint in her eye. For some reason, Hitoshi felt fear pull at his gut.

"Wait a second, I know you! You're that green kid..." She started bouncing on her feet, ignoring Midoriya's concerned look and instead latching on to Hitoshi's quiet groan. She caught his eye in the crowd, expression sparling with curiosity.

Well. There was no avoiding it now. Hitoshi stepped through the last row of students and stood beside Midoriya. The greenette squeaked, face shading with fear again, and Hitoshi felt his heart sink. He didn't show it, though, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow.

"Hito- ahm. Sh-Shinsou-kun." Midoriya whispered, eyes dropping to the floor.

Ashido opened her mouth to ask something, and Sero, Hitoshi's savior, leaned forward and pulled her back by the collar of her shirt.

"I think that's our cue, Mina." Sero sighed. Hitoshi will never understand how one teenager can have so much exasperated dad energy, but he wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Actually, maybe he'd get Sero something nice for the intervention. Like a mug with a terrible pun, he seems the type to appreciate it.

Because by god, he didn't want anyone to witness Hitoshi's first friend's fear (hatred?) of him. He was on such good footing with this class, he didn't want Midoriya to ruin it.

He waited for Midoriya to say something else, apparently still subconsciously expecting the greenette to fill the silence, like he always did.

Midoriya didn't even look at him, and it made him feel like his heart was shriveling up. Or maybe his lungs, because it was getting harder to breathe.

"Midoriya." He greets. He's been referring to the boy like that in his head for weeks now, but it still feels foreign on his tongue. Midoriya flinches back, and Hitoshi kind of wants to throw up. Or, at the very least, leave the conversation.

But that felt a lot like giving up, and Hitoshi was in the hero course now, he clawed his way up from Gen-ed, and he's never given up in his life. Not on something that mattered. Besides, he wanted answers anyway, so....

"It's been a while." Hitoshi acknowledges. Midoriya just nods, still shaking like a leaf. Hitoshi sighs, and runs a hand through his hair to cover up his own mounting tremors. "Let's get lunch. Catch up a bit." He asked, though it wasn't really a question. Hitoshi would not let Midoriya slip away without at least an explanation again.

Timidly, Midoriya nodded. Hitoshi turned on his heel and headed to the cafeteria, and Izuku trailed after him. Almost like old times, except for all the ways it wasn't.

"So. You haven't been in the cafeteria." Hitoshi notes, aiming for idle chatter. Midoriya nods. "Tell me where you've been, then." 

"....R-Roof." Midoriya answers simply. Hitoshi opens the door to the cafeteria, sees Ashido sitting Eagerly next to Jirou, and nods. He doesn't let himself be concerned by the answer- because it was a little concerning, but they weren't friends so it wasn't his problem- and instead just nodded.

"Let's eat there, then. Cafeteria's a bit crowed."

It was a blatant bullshit lie, but Midoriya just nods and leads him up. Hitoshi is silently thankful that he made himself lunch on a whim this morning.

They got to the roof, and Hitoshi didn't even consider it might be locked until Midoriya pulled out a key and unlocked it. Hitoshi frowned.

"You have a key." He said, carefully avoiding questions. More on instinct then anything else, really. Midoriya just nodded. He must have felt Hitoshi's unimpressed glare, though, because he squeaks.

"F-Found it." He shrugs jerkily, walking them onto the roof. "Y-y-you w-won't g-get in trouble, o-or anyth-thing! Th-there's a c-camera there," Midoriya nodded at a small camera Hitoshi wouldn't have even noticed otherwise, "S-so. I-if they m-m-minded, they w-would h-have said s-s-something by now." He explained, getting quieter as he talked.

Hitoshi nodded, not sure how to respond to that. He forgot how observant Midoriya was. The greenette finally turned to look at him, and squeaks nervously again.

"Y-you! Y-you can h-h-have the k-key, if you w-want, of c-c-course..." He offered, a little frantic. Hitoshi flinched at the offering, like he was some goddamn Yakuza, and Midoriya flinched at his flinch, and they stared at each other awkwardly for a minute.

Hitoshi ran a hand through his hair again, groaning quietly. He knew this would be hard, but he didn't expect it to be this bad. Midoriya was shaking like a wet dog just looking at him. 

He sat against the concrete wall on the side of the entrance and pulled out his bento. Midoriya sat a few feet in front of him, and did not.

....Did Midoriya even have a lunch? Hitoshi had never seen him forget his lunch before. Maybe he just wasn't hungry.

"C-c-congrats." Midoriya mumbled, staring in his lap at his hands. Hitoshi barely heard it, idly mixing some sides into his rice. He didn't look up, but Midoriya made an aborted sound in his throat and continued nonetheless. "O-on! On g-g-getting into th-the H-Hero c-c-course. I...." Midoriya trailed off, then shook his head. He looked up and offered Hitoshi a small, hesitant smile. "I kn-knew you c-could do it. You- You'll be a g-g-great h-hero."

Hitoshi snorted bitterly and rolled his eyes, and ignored the way Izuku's face fell.

"Of course you 'knew I could do it'. You were doing everything you could to get me as far away as possible, you made sure I could do it."

"I- I what?" Midoriya asked softly. Hitoshi let out a sharp laugh.

"Don't try to bullshit me now!" He all but growled, throwing a frustrated arm out. Midoriya wasn't even in reach, and he flinched back. Hitoshi laughed again. "God! You can't even look at me, and you expect me to believe you're genuinely happy for me? The only thing you're happy about is not having sit behind a villain in class or at lunch anymore, admit it."

Midoriya pursed his lips and curled into himself silently. Hitoshi hissed out another series of mean laughs, because it felt like his only alternative was crying and he refused to be weak in front of the boy he thought cared for him.

"Sh-Shinsou..." He wheezed, like a chew toy. "That- that's not-"

"You don't have to lie to me anymore, Midoriya." He hissed, like the name was dirt on his tongue, cause it kinda felt like it was. "You don't have to say anything to me, so don't force it. Or, if you do, just don't lie, because you've obviously done enough of-"

"Hitoshi!" The greenette shouted, and Hitoshi cut himself off in shock. He didn't know Midoriya could yell. 

He looked back at the greenette in shock, and winced at the tears rolling down his face in droves. He was still shaking, but it seemed like he had swapped most of his fear for some sort of anger, and Hitoshi gulped.

"I-I don't- What are y-you talking about?" He chokes, sniffling, sounding so confused, and Hitoshi wanted to believe it more then anything, but he'd already been burned too many times, and this boy in particular had taken whatever trust he built up and lit it on fire. So he steeled himself and scowled at the all but cowering boy.

"So you want to tell me that it was just a coincidence that you made yourself scare the moment I was out of your hair." He challenged, raising an eyebrow. Midoriya let out a hiss of air and dropped his gaze back to the floor.

"It's not like that. I just..."

Hitohsi scoffed. "You just What, Midoriya?" He baited, hissing the question for emphesis. Fuck this. He was calling Midoriya's bluff-

"give me a second, Hi-Hitoshi. I'm- I'm trying...." Midoriya trailed off, scowling at the ground. "I- I don't. I don't g-g-get wh-where you got an i-idea like th-that."

Hitoshi's throat went dry. He felt the thread connecting him to Midoriya via his quirk tighten, and before he could think about it in his worked up state he tugged.

Midoriya's face went slack and blank, and he almost fell over going from tense to loose in the span of a second. Hitoshi cut the connection immediately, and felt like throwing up.

Midoriya gasped, breathe quickening as soon as he came back to himself again, and Hitoshi waited for him to lash out, to cry, to wax and wane about how evil Hitoshi was, how he was a villain because he was, how Midoriya was right to get as far away from him as possible and, really, how could he expect anything else because Midoriya tried to trust him again despite everything and Hitoshi immediately took advantage of it like the monster he is-

"...Hitoshi?" Midoriya whispered, voice trembling, and Hitoshi shook with a silent sob. Izuku made a worried noise, and Hitoshi couldn't even find the energy to rile himself up over Izuku's fake (has to be fake has to be fake has to be fake-) sympathy. He just made a pathetic keening noise.

He heard Midoriya clumsily move forward, and he knew he deserved whatever was coming but he tensed up nonetheless. Midoriya made a strange sound that Hitoshi's panicked brain couldn't place and his breath hitched as arms looped around him, one over his left shoulder and one under his right. He flinched and hissed and waited for the hurt, and Midoriya tightened his grip around his back, and Hitoshi went limp and waited, sure he was going to pick Hitoshi up and do...something. Bash his head against the wall, or whisper something terrible, or throw him off the roof or- or something.

But instead Midoriya's arms just....stayed there, snug around his waist. Not gentle, but more firm then harsh, something blessedly solid just in time to stop Hitoshi's spiraling brain from floating off, and Hitoshi can't do anything but cling to him in return as he slowly but surely realizes that Izuku's just....holding him. He doesn't know if he remembers the last time he was held. It makes his kin crawl, honestly but like....in a nice way? That didn't make sense. It was true, though, so he just accepted it and melted into the embrace. A childish, dumb part of his brain that refused to learn it's lesson thought maybe this would end well, and the rest of him knew this was the calm before the storm and decided to take what he could get.

Midoriya was muttering something under his breathe. Probably something to reassure him, but he couldn't understand a word of it as the greenette spoke far too fast and quiet. It was familiar in a way that made part of him ache, but brought a smile to his face too. He let it stay there, for now. Midoriya's face was shoved into his shoulder, so it's not like he would see.

Hitoshi almost laughed into the greenette's hair when he realized, just as he was calming down, Izuku had started sobbing. Then he immediately felt bad, and silently started rubbing circles into Izu-Midoriya's back. 

It didn't take Midoriya very long to stop shaking. That wasn't a surprise- Midoriya had always been a crybaby, but he seemed to try his best to limit it to just tears. Hitoshi remembered them working on that at some point, before they stopped talking, and it made his heart squeeze to realize he'd lapsed back into the habit.

He thought Midoriya was doing better off without him, since it was obviously what he wanted if he was trying to hard to avoid him, and knowing that had hurt. But knowing that Midoriya had, perhaps, been doing just as poorly as Hitoshi with the change....he wasn't sure how to feel. An evil, cruel part of him felt relived, and he tried his best to ignore it.

The...Hug (cause that's what it was, bizarrely enough) ended, and Midoriya pulled back, still trembling. Hitoshi wished he could reach back out and continue comforting the shaking greenette, but he didn't want to push- especially with the terrible line he just crossed with his quirk- so he just watched Midoriya curl into himself again in a simulated self hug, and let out a bracing sigh.

Well. It was nice while it lasted.

"Hitoshi." Midoriya whispered, and Hitoshi was torn between the spark of hope that he felt when he heard the address and the resigned bitterness in knowing that it wouldn't last. "Hitoshi....ok. I'm going to talk. A-A-And you, you're not g-gonna say a-anyth-thing until I s-say so." Midoriya asserted, balling his hands up in his jeans.

Hitoshi's throat tightened and he felt the phantom of a muzzle settle around his head, but Midoriya had the right to say whatever he wanted after what Hitoshi did. He was still pissed about the past weeks, but it seemed...small, in comparison to what he did. Hitoshi nodded, and Midoriya took a deep breath.

"O-ok. Ok..." He was silent for a minute, no sound between them but their alternatively shudderning breathes and quiet sniffles.

"Ok." Midoirya said a third time, shaking his head. "First- st-stop l-l-looking like th-that. Like you- like you killed a cat or s-something. I'm f-f-fine, Hitoshi. It was- it was an accident." He faltered. "or. I. I'm pr-pretty s-sure it was. B-but! Even if it w-w-wasn't that'd be f-fine, cause you l-let me go! You- you were r-r-r-really angry a-at me, and you c-c-could hav-ve hurt me a l-l-lot, but y-you...didn't! So c...calm d-down. P-p-p-please calm down. I'm...." Then Midoriya's voice got really small- if the wind was just a little louder, Hitoshi wouldn't have heard the it. "I'm not g-going to hurt you, Hitoshi. W....we're friends."

Hitoshi's breath hitched, and the only thing that stopped him from falling back into his head is Midoriya's literal begging for him to stay calm. Hitoshi...Hitoshi could do it. He owed him that much, no matter what the greenette said.

(He could almost sob in relief at the reassurance that Midoriya wouldn't hurt him He shouldn't trust it, he didn't trust it, but it relieved him anyway. He...he wasn't sure what Midoriya hurting him would do to him, if he was so effect just by Midoriya being distant. He didn't want to find out, no matter what his brain was trying to convince him he deserved.)

Midoriya gave him a searching look, then nodded. "O-ok. That- that's the first thing. N-n-now it's your turn to t-t-talk."

Hitoshi bit his lip and part of him screamed that it was a trap, but the rest of him was just so tired and just wanted the conversation over.

"What am I supposed to say?" He asked helplessly, not wanting to upset the greenette. His heartbeat speed up, though, as he realized what he did, and he rushed to fix it. "I- I mean. Tell me what you want m-"

"Tell me how you feel about what I said." Midoriya explained calmly, before Hitoshi could retract his question. He flinched at the familiar mental thread, and made extra sure not to pull it. Midoriya sent a smile at him that lifted his spirits, if only for a moment.

How he felt about what Midoriya said.....Well. It's not like he had the energy to lie.

How much longer was lunch? It felt like it had been forever.

"I....don't believe you." Hitoshi admits timidly, looking away from Izuku. He doesn't want to see a negative reaction and freak out- he was still trying to be calm. "But I want to. And....I didn't think we were still friends, so I'm confused. And probably still angry at you." He laid out, finally looking back at Izuku. The boy had a small, sad smile. Hitoshi hesitated, thinking it over, and then shrugged. "And I didn't know were were still friends. That's it."

"Thank you for sharing. I know it was hard." Midoriya whispered, and it should sound patronizing, but it isn't. It just makes Hitoshi relax, even though he shouldn't. He should know better.

But he's just..so tired, and Midoriya is right there, and it's all too easy to fall into old habits and all too hard to keep up his fronts. So he just nods.

"ok the- the uh. The next th-thing...we-we're totally still friends? I-if you, uh, you wanna be. I j-j-just...didn't th-think you did! You....you didn't st-start being my f-friend until I......u-until I st-started help-ping you with get-t-ting into the H-hero course. So I thought.....I m-mean, you- you're g-gonna be a h-hero now, Hitoshi! Y-you don't....n-n-need m-me, So I l-l-left you a-alone. D-didn't....w-wanna be c-clingy." 

Hitoshi felt like....perhaps the biggest idiot in the world. But in his defense....He didn't realize Izuku's thought so lowly of himself. How could he miss it? Sure, the guy was sunny, but in retrospect it made an awful lot of sense. Hitoshi really was self-centered, to just not realize it for so long, but he tried not to dwell on it. Izuku muttered something about being done, which meant it was Hitoshi's turn to speak.

"I....wow." Hitoshi sighed, crawling towards Midoriya. He opened his arms and, for the first time he could ever remember, offered a hug. Izuku's eyes sparkled, and he barreled into Hitoshi's chest. "I don't know what to say." He admitted again, cause it worked the first time. Midoriya hesitated, then snuggled further into his chest. Hitoshi started combing through Izuku's hair with a hand- half to comfort the boy, and half to make sure he didn't look up and see Hitoshi go the shade of Izuku's sneakers.

"t...." Izuku tensed up, and Hitoshi could barely hear him when he muffled himself into Hitoshi's shoulder. "Tell me...tell me the truth."

"Of course." Hitoshi agrees, cause he didn't even think about lying to him. 

"Tell me that we're friends." Izuku demanded, and Hitoshi relaxed. Simple instructions. He could totally to this.

"We're friends." Hitoshi Reassured, twirling a curl around his finger.

"T-Tell me that you aren't j-just....just using m-me. Or at least...t-tell me if you are. I- I wanna know."

"I would never." Hitoshi frowns, holding Izuku a bit tighter. "I have never. We just gotta get you some self-worth."

Izuku's giggle tickled Hitoshi's ear and made him shiver, but he was grinning ear to ear because he made Izuku laugh. It finally settled in to his brain, that he was going to be okay. They were going to be okay.

Izuku is silent for a while, and Hitoshi lets his eyes drift close, thinking maybe Izuku was spent- Hitoshi certainly was. He was more then ready to pass out on this rooftop and wait for some teacher to hunt them down. 

He was wrong. Izuku's hands clutched him with a sudden and strange desperation, and his head snaps up so fast that his forehead almost hits Hitoshi's jaw.

"T-t-tell me...tell me I'm useless." He demanded, a slightly frenzied look in his eye that concerned Hitoshi. "T-tell me that I'm, I'm weak, and y-y-you d-deserve b-better, and I-I'm an idiot f-for thinking o-otherwise even for a s-s-second, t-t-tell me you're lying you- you have to be lying, tell me-"

"I can't." Hitoshi cuts Izuku off, shaking his head and meeting those deep, green eyes. So full of life but shaded with shadows, like a forest. Or maybe that was just the hair. "Izuku, I can't tell you any of that. Not if you want me to tell the truth."

Izuku wailed this time, loud like Hitoshi hadn't heard him before. Hitoshi shifted uncomfortably and blushed on and off and awkwardly tried his sawdust best to comfort Izuku, but he didn't push him away. At a general loss for what to do, he mostly just....let him let it out. It seemed like he kinda needed to.

Then, finally, the last question, as Izuku tired himself out so thoroughly he was all but passed out drooling on Hitoshi's jacket. Gross, but an acceptable price for friendship.

"Hey, Hitoshi?" He mumbled. Hitoshi hummed, not opening his eyes. "Tell me y-you'll sit with m-me at lunch, t-t-tomorrow?" 

Hitoshi felt the last of his doubt melt away at the definate confirmation they'd see each other again, and he nodded.

"Consider it done."

--

(Eventually the school bell rings for the end of the day, waking Hitoshi, but not Izuku, which was just his luck, really. He thanked Aizawa-sensei for all the strength training, and picked the greenette up. He didn't want to wake the poor boy up, while he was still all cried out, but the least he could do was spare him the pain of the stairs.

(and, maybe, part of him just wanted to carry Midoriya around. He was like an adorable genius friend-shaped bag of bones.)

He manuevered the door open with minimal trouble, and came to a terrified stop at the short white creature he almost kicked like a football on reflex.

Principal Nezu. Fuck. Aizawa-sensei told him to avoid the chimera. In fact, he said that if Hitoshi ever had a conversation with the hero, he had to pay Aizawa-sensei 10000 yen for emotional damages.

"Ah, good, I was just coming to get the two of you!" The principal grins, an expression that did not fit on his rodent face. Hitoshi just nodded. 

"I've actually taken a mild interest in Midoriya there, so when he brought a friend up to the roof I simply couldn't let anyone interfere. Especially with how the two of you were acting- it seemed...personal, I suppose. I told both of your teachers to excuse you for the day, your homeroom teachers will have make-up work packs tomorrow morning, due at the end of the day. I'm sure you'll both manage."

Hitoshi nodded again, a bit more wary. On the one hand, maybe if he stayed silent it wouldn't count as a conversation and he wouldn't have to pay Aizawa-sensei. On the other hand, he had to know-

"I didn't hear any of it." The principle suddenly spoke again. Hitoshi jumped in shock, and the animal eyed him with what might have been amusement. "Neither did the camera's. They're there for to protect students, not invade their privacy. Audio recordings have to be turned on manually, and I saw it best to just...let the two of you work out. I'm glad to see I was correct."

Hitoshi nodded a third time, tightening his grip on Izuku, and neither of them said another word. Nezu left his side when they exited the school building, and Hitoshi managed to prod Izuku awake by the time they reached the gate, and that was that on ALL of that.

And the next day at lunch? That would be the beginning of something amazing.)